Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza seen from a viewpoint in Southern Israel Oct. 24, 2023, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues. OSV News photo/Violeta Santos Moura, Reuters

Editorial: Let's not forget how the bloodshed began

  • November 9, 2023

The Toronto Star, which often seems to have sold its soul to the progressive deity Unthink, conveyed genuine wisdom in its coverage of demonstrations that snarled the city centre on Nov. 4

They were the reported words of one protester, Yhaacub Hans, described as a “Niagara mechanic,” who brought his wife, nephews, year-old daughter and 65-year-old aunt to join the crowd of 25,000 demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

In place of the ricochet sloganeering that normally dominates such events, Hans spoke the clear, hard truth that the violent deaths of human beings as human beings, absent all forms of ideological demonization, is what must be paramount.

“I just pray to God that this violence stops,” he was quoted. “It’s heartbreaking. Whether it’s on the Israeli side or Palestinian side, we’re against anybody dying. In our religion, if you save one person, it’s as if you save all humanity, but if you kill one person, it’s as if you killed all humanity.”

We could celebrate the minor miracle that the appearance of “God” and “religion” in a Star story failed, this time, to send the newspaper’s brains trust into conniptions sufficient to upend the whole operation. But focus is properly fixed on the sheer humanity of Hans eloquently, fervently, acknowledging the humanity of Israelis and therefore, by extension, Jews.

It’s an acknowledgement that is as welcome as it has been unspeakably absent in far too much of the coverage, debate, rancour and clamour around the horror of Oct. 7. Indeed, the Star report replicated the sin by omission when it noted that the death toll in Gaza continues to mount, which is true, but failed to stress that the death toll in Israel remains estimated at an appalling 1,400 human beings butchered by Hamas.

The necessity of placing those two facts side by side arises from a much more critical cause than pro forma journalistic balance. It forces us to acknowledge the reality that calls for a “ceasefire” in Gaza, justifiable as they are, have their causality in a single source: Hamas. Or, for those who prefer an elaboration, the terrorist thugs called Hamas.

Such is the evil depravity of the terrorists’ actions that they, hard as this is for empathetic hearts to hear, make a mockery of the best-intentioned demands for a halt to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Obviously, that not because it’s somehow morally justifiable to make cannon fodder of the Palestinian people. Of course it isn’t. As Yhaacub Hans put it so well, to kill one is, in effect, to kill humanity.

Nor is it a matter of the Israelis being entitled to multiples of vengeance for what was done. That would violate both the moral code of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and, of supreme importance, God’s injunction that vengeance is His.

What makes the current ceasefire campaign ring hollow, however earnest the appeals or voluminous the demonstrations, is that as of 11:59:59 on Oct. 6, 2023, there was a ceasefire. There was a ceasefire of long enough duration, and apparent sufficient stability, that a group of Israeli citizens held a peace festival on a Jewish religious holiday. Dozens of them were slaughtered for their pains. To lose sight of that crucial historical fact, however innocently or inadvertently in the rush of events, is to effectively de-humanize the Jewish dead of Oct. 7.

It is to dehumanize them because they then become mere integers in the moral calculus of action-reaction, attack and response. But no. This we cannot allow. For if one is too many — and it is — then those who killed the one must first be held ultimately, concretely accountable for the subsequent deaths of the many. To insist otherwise is to deny the full humanity of all. This God will not allow.

At the human level, the protesters in the streets, the politicians on their stumps, the humanitarians pouring out their hearts in good works, the religious leadership of every faith, should level their voices not at demonized Israelis (read: Jews) but at the vile, bloodstained, terrorist thugs who lead Hamas.

It is to admirable to pray that God will stop the violence they have unleashed. A correlative would be for humanity to arise as one and see to it that Hamas, as a military-political abomination, ceases to exist.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.